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Learn to Like Vegetables One at a Time

Confession: I am a reformed vegetable eater. Up until a few years ago my knowledge of vegetables extended no further than iceberg lettuce, corn (actually a grain), green beans, and potatoes. This was all I was exposed to as a child, so I had this fear of how gross vegetables were. As an adult, why would I go out of my way to eat something I wouldn’t like?

A few years ago, when I really became passionate about my health and the way my family eats, eating more vegetables was a natural part of that change. I like to call it growth.

I’m not alone in this category of picky eaters. In fact, we’ve heard from fans and readers who’ve asked us how to eat more vegetables because their families feel the same way. Vegetables are gross.

What I’ve learned, and want to share, is that vegetables aren’t gross, they’re actually quite delicious and add depth to a meal. Today, there are few veggies I won’t eat. And I hope soon you and your family will be able to say the same thing.

As a former veggie hater, I advise to start slowly and try new things. It takes time and practice, but worth it to reform your vegetable habits. Try one new veggie a week, and a variation or two. You might not like it immediately. And, if after a couple attempts you don’t like it, then drop it. There are too many veggies available to force yourself to eat what you don’t like.

Here are a few ideas that worked in my home to help you take on the vegetable transition:

  • Tomatoes. We never liked tomatoes, now they are a staple. We found that we love the Roma tomatoes, so that’s what we eat.
  • Red skin potatoes. Quartered red skins in a little olive oil with kosher salt and cracked black peppers and you won’t miss baked potatoes or french fries! Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes.
  • Bell peppers. These are versatile and add a lot of flavor to salads, sauteed for fajitas/quesadillas, grilled on burgers, you name it.
  • Zucchini and squash. Sautee or grill about five minutes (so they don’t wilt), or shred them into lasagna.
  • Mushrooms. The boring white mushrooms aren’t great, but grab the portabello mushrooms and you’ve got another versatile veggie that goes on/in a lot of things, cooked or raw!
  • Sweet potatoes. These were an acquired taste, but have grown on us. We bake these for a more nutritious side. The natural flavors and moisture don’t require extra toppings.
  • Carrots. Raw or cooked, these are a staple. They make a great stand-alone snack, grated into a lasagna, shredded on salads or steamed as a side.
  • Greens. We pass on iceberg and love fresh spring greens, spinach, and kale for salads, sandwiches or even a smoothie! (Yes, this veggie hater puts spinach in her smoothies.)
  • Broccoli. Truth be told, we prefer ours raw, which is fine for a salad or a healthy, filling snack.
  • Snap peas. A handful of these tossed on a salad or with whole grain pasta and shrimp adds color and delicious crunch.
  • Green beans. These are a favorite and simple to prepare. We snap the ends and steam for a dinner side or add to vegetable stew.

A few other tips:

  • Stick to fresh vegetables whenever possible. This made a huge difference for me, going fresh versus canned or frozen; completely different flavor and texture.
  • Try balsamic vinegar. We love the savory flavor when tossed over asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini and even carrots. Do a quick sautee or few minutes on the grill.
  • Bake, grill, sautee, steam or leave raw, you’ll be amazed at how the different techniques influence flavor and texture.

My next goal: taking on the eggplant and the artichoke.

April 27th, 2010

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